Thursday, November 25, 2010

Something Amazing at Macy’s

On November 6, 2010, a group of some 650 singers from the Philadelphia Opera Company joined together in an unusual conspiracy. They arranged to be at Macy's in Center City Philadelphia at high noon,to mix in with the crowd of shoppers there and then, on cue from their director on a second floor balcony, sing the Halleluiah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah. All of this was accompanied by someone on Macy’s giant organ in the large foyer area of the store.
     A video recording of the event became quite a hit on YouTube, as a rare musical feast that caught the startled shoppers completely off guard. Many were obviously amazed and moved by the unexpected performance, either because it brought back fond memories of it as a loved and familiar part if their past, or as a masterpiece they were hearing for the first time.
     Some of the listeners looked up and raised their hands in awe or held them over their hearts. Others were using their cell phones to take pictures of the musicians all around them and/or were calling others to have them listen in. Still others were excitedly talking to each other as they listened with wonderment.  And of course all joined in an extended and heartfelt round of applause after the last drawn out “Hal-le-lu-jah!” at the end of the piece.
     As a person of faith, I was deeply moved by the performance on YouTube, and it was certainly an experience aptly described by a sign one of the organizers of the group held up at the end, “You have just experienced a random act of culture by the Opera Company of Philadelphia.”
     Maybe we should all find ways of expressing some random, creative, and impactful kindnesses of our own this season, expressing our Hallelujahs and our confidence in who shall reign forever and ever.
     This could be in the form of a surprise visit to someone at a nursing home, an offer of some child care for a frazzled parent in need of a break, a note  of appreciation for a past teacher or pastor who has made a difference in our lives, or an invitation to dinner for a new immigrant family in the community. 
     May such Hallelujahs resound everywhere!
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